Chatham Co. Mosquito Control working to manage mosquito populati - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Chatham Co. Mosquito Control working to manage mosquito population

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

Recent bad weather has made it tough for mosquito control teams in Chatham County to stay ahead of the hatching schedules of the pesky blood-suckers.

Because of that, you may have noticed an increased mosquito population around your home. Crews at the Chatham County Mosquito Control Office are working to target the issue. The kind of mosquitoes they're going after are not the Zika-carrying headline makers, the Aedes aegypti. 

Aviation and ground units have been busy trying to ramp up efforts to squash an army of salt marsh mosquitoes that have hatched and flown toward the lights of Savannah. They have been busy taking hundreds of calls for service, and they have missions set up for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Chatham County's Mosquito Control Director says even still, the mosquito population is controlled much better now than it was in recent decades.

"I used to hear about people who lived here prior to the establishment of the mosquito control in 1957. People who lived out on the islands used to flip a coin to see who would go get the paper, because on a regular basis, it was that bad," said Jeff Heusel, Director, Chatham County Mosquito Control. 

Heusel says the aviation unit allows their teams to attack the mosquito populations in areas trucks can't get to.

"The majority of the breeding is taking place right across the river in South Carolina,” said Heusel.

But recent rain kept their aircraft grounded, and they missed the narrow three-day window to keep a large population of salt marsh mosquitoes from reaching adulthood.

"As a result, we just, at this point our only option was to wait for them to hatch off and migrate this way,” said Heusel.

That’s exactly what the pesky insects did, which created hundreds of calls for service from the community as they moved toward the lights of the city.

"Unfortunately Mother Nature doesn't always work with us,” Heusel said.

The war map in the mosquito control front office shows just how many calls they've had, and what's on the list for the coming days.

"We've got missions set up for tonight, tomorrow night and Saturday night as well,” Heusel said.

The salt marsh mosquitoes may be pesky, but they don't carry the headline-grabbing Zika Virus. And as far as the mosquitoes that do, the Aedes Egypti, Heusel says while it's historically wreaked havoc in coastal Georgia, they haven't seen them in years.

"I think the last one we saw was in 2012, and that was one or two samples here and there,” said Heusel.

The mosquito control director says the tiger mosquito population, introduced in the mid-80s, is primarily responsible for driving out the Aedes Egypti.

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